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Environmental impact results mixed for rigid packaging

By Rod Addy , 10-Feb-2013

Rigid packaging’s green credentials are mixed, according to the latest report from US consulting and publishing firm Allied Development.

The company’s ‘Barrier materials for rigid packaging 2013-2017’ analysis claims various forms of rigid barrier packaging for food and drink score differently for different environmental impacts.

“Energy consumption and material to landfill metrics favour the aluminium can,” Allied Development states. “Greenhouse gas emissions favour the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle, but water consumption favours the steel can.”

Seven types of rigid barrier materials

The study examines principally seven types of rigid ‘barrier’ materials, so-called because they provide a barrier preventing their contents from being contaminated by air.

These materials are: glass, PET resin, steel sheet, aluminium sheet, transparent oxide-coated containers, EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol polymer) resin and nylon resin.

The report also ranks the per-unit manufacturing cost of closures for 330ml beer containers for commercial purposes, with aluminium cans emerging as the cheapest, while PET bottles are the most expensive.

Closures reviewed

Glass bottles with metal crown caps, two-piece aluminium cans with can ends and PET barrier bottles with closures were all reviewed as part of this aspect of the research.

The study predicts 4.7% annual global value growth in barrier materials for rigid packaging to 2017. It claims the world market was worth $95bn in 2012 and will approach $115bn within the next five years.

The report also assesses barrier performance as well as innovative technologies such as nanotechnology and glass tempering.

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